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A Well Rounded Photographer vs. a Jack of All Trades: How to Spot a Versatile Pro

Showcasing a Devens, MA restaurant shoot

Written by Mark Mendoza on February 24, 2020

You know the phrase “a jack of all trades, a master of none”?  When it comes to hiring a professional photographer, the “jack of all trades” type is typically the kind you’ll want to avoid.

The best piece of advice I can give anyone looking for a professional photographer is to avoid those who seem to specialize in everything. Why?  Professional photography is broken into many, wildly different specialties. So different, in fact, that it would be nearly impossible to master them all in one lifetime. You’ll often hear me say that the most important thing to look for in your search for a professional photographer is to find one who specializes in the exact kind of photography you need. Need someone to shoot your wedding? Find a wedding photographer. Need some headshots for your office? Find a headshot photographer. But what if the photos you need involve a few overlapping specialties?

How to spot a well-rounded photographer vs. a jack of all trades

So the big question is: how can you differentiate between a well-rounded photographer that specializes in a few different arenas versus a jack of all trades who has simply spread him or herself too thin? The key here? Look at their samples! When photographers say they specialize in a few different kinds of photography, there should be plenty of samples of each niche they are promoting on their website. If you can’t find samples of each specialty required for your shoot, or, you don’t like what you see, it’s probably best to move on. 

You may be wondering: why is it so important to find a versatile pro for shoots that require a few overlapping specialties? Below is an example that will help explain just that. 

How one Devens, MA restaurant benefited from hiring a versatile photographer.

Being an expert, or specializing in, a particular type of photography means the photographer meets three important requirements: 

  1. Has lots of experience shooting within that niche
  2. Has the technical knowledge of how to shoot for that niche
  3. Has the proper equipment to shoot those particular kinds of photos

When a photographer meets these three requirements, it allows the shoot to run much more efficiently. This saves time, adds value, and ultimately helps you land much higher quality photos in the end. Take this shoot I did for a restaurant in Devens, MA recently. After sprucing up the entire restaurant – from the interior design to the food on the menu – the new owner of Devens Grill decided it was time to rehaul all of the restaurant’s marketing materials as well, which meant he needed new images of the restaurant’s interior, product shots of the new food on the menu, and fresh headshots of the staff. In other words, he needed a photographer who specializes in the following: 

  1. Architectural photography 
  2. Food photography
  3. Corporate headshot photography

These are three drastically different types of shoots, but since they all happen to be my specialties, it meant I knew exactly how to prepare for each shoot in order to maximize my time on set. Based on experience, I knew it would be best to combine the patio, building exterior, bar room, and kitchen shoot with the headshots on one day, and then tackle all of the food and beverage related photography on a next day. It also meant I knew what lighting, lenses, and cameras we would need for each shoot. And having worked in many restaurant settings in the past, I also had experience finding the sweet spot of when to come in to do each job – as you cannot be in the way when the restaurant inevitably fills up with customers. 

The combination of experience I have in these three specialized shoots helped me to provide the best service and final products for my client. 

Interested in learning more about my food, architecture, or headshot services? Give me a shout!

Tags: professional photographer,  food photography

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